About Me

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London, United Kingdom
This is the journey of an average girl trying to lose weight and embarking on a new adventure. Everything you read and see posted from me is real. I wear my heart on my sleeve and make mistakes just like everyone! Everything on this page is just my opinion I do not claim to be an expert I am just giving my account of how I feel!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bad Days, Depression and Panic Attacks

This post may be a little "deep" but I feel it needs sharing!

I don't need sympathy, its understanding I need!

YES I do have bad days in fact I am having one today so I thought I best write this whilst I am feeling down then I can explain the feelings clearly. I woke up this morning feeling very tired and down,  I could hear the rain outside so I knew I would feel even more down when I looked out at the grey sky. There are rarely any days when rain gives me any comfort, the only times I have enjoyed the rain are when things are extra happy at home, Matt and I are watching a film snuggled up on the sofa whilst the rain hits the window, or when I have been in a tropical country sunbathing and the welcoming drops of a light shower blessed my sunburned skin. Other than that I hate grey skies and rain, its almost always a reflection of what is going on inside my head. The pull to stay underneath the quilt in a dark room all day was tremendous today, I literally felt like I could stay there for the near future (I could not say “forever” as I do know these days of feeling down do not last). If I did not have a child in the next room who needs me then my bed I would stay!  There are lots of things that try to pull me down and sometimes they do succeed and then it is just a case of allowing the feelings to naturally pass.

At the moment I am still on medication, I started taking Citalophram 20mg very soon after having Joshua as I was suffering from post natal depression, the strange thing about anti-depressants are that when you first start taking them the side effects are the same (if not sometimes worse) than the symptoms, you have to be very patient with them and let them do their stuff, it took about 6-8 weeks before I started to feel even a little bit better. There was so much going on around this time especially having a new baby that trying to cope with it on my own was impossible, I was crying all the time, my motivation was non-existent, I struggled to accept that I had a child and now had to act like a responsible parent. I do know a little bit about how these types of medication work but not being a doctor I am reluctant to share my knowledge (in case it is complete rubbish) but what I can tell you is that it is a chemical process and my body was not producing enough serotonin which is your “happy chemical”, I did not have the time then to exercise nor was I in the right frame of mind.

Due to situations out of my control I had no option but to return to work early after only 4 months of having Joshua, now depending on what country you live in some women go back before this and some women return to work after 2-3 years maternity leave. What I know is that I was devastated by this, I had planned a year, I wanted to bond with him and take him out places, I wanted to do “ladies that lunch” and watch my son develop instead I felt pushed into work full time. I remember crying on lots of occasions in the car on the way to or on the way home because I felt like I was missing out on precious moments with my son (I still do occasionally).

I did not feel myself at all for at least a year, I struggled to smile and laughing seemed to use up too much energy (which I did not have), the plans I had visualised for my future as a parent were ruined, we had no money yet I had to work full time and come up with an additional £1000+ a month. Car boot sales, eBay and various other selling channels were then my life outside of work, I would get home, make dinner, play with Joshua for an hour or so then bath him and put him to bed then start my second job raking in the £1000 for the month, this felt like every night for at least a year. At this point of my life I could not see the brightness ahead. Depression has a way of completely taking hold of you. As much as I hated returning to work early I do think that if I had not my depression would have got worse as it really is a lonely place being home alone with a baby day in and day out. My advice to any mums out there having these feelings now to just try and go out for a walk with your child to the local park, make it a regular thing every day, fresh air and a tiny bit of exercise will help give you just that little boost and then maybe when you feel a bit better join a baby club (even if its once a week). Remember - BABY STEPS (see Motivation post).

It’s really tough living with depression, in addition to my own problems I also had my partner suffering from depression and grieving from losing his dad. Usually in a relationship there is one person who is positive whilst the other is struggling and vice versa, for us we were both depressed. Weekends are even more precious now to Matt and I as we love spending time with Joshua. Our family life is still under pressure financially but we are getting there. When the weekend arrives I always try to instigate getting out of the house to stretch our legs, it costs nothing to walk to the park with Joshua and even just getting out for 30 mins makes us feel more alive and refreshed.

I do believe happiness breeds happiness, being positive is infectious – only this morning when I felt gloomy I heard a colleague singing “let’s do the time warp” a song I am not that keen on but it brought back images of dancing to it on a great night out immediately I laugh (as she was also doing the actions) and then I continue singing it to myself at my desk. That moment lifted me and its moments like that through the day that keep me going. If it was not for my colleagues at work making me laugh and giving me support on a daily basis I don’t think I would get through my dark days.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are just about one of the worst things to experience, I have suffered now for 11 years, I could write a book about them alone! One of the awful feelings I experience is embarrassment as after an attack as you wonder what all the fuss was about, people look at you as if you are a freak! Unless you have suffered from them it is hard to imagine the magnitude of what is happening inside.

Let me try and explain for you: Imagine you are out walking with your family in the city, there is a man in the distance walking towards you and he looks suspicious, so whilst walking you shuffle your son/daughter behind you and pull your partner in closer to you. The man approaches fast and shows you he has a knife in his jacket, your heart is racing, the adrenaline has started to pump around your body and you can feel waves of fear for the safety of you family. By now your mouth is dry and as the man asks you for your cash you pull it out of your wallet/bag with shaking hands. You are normally really fast and sharp with thinking but you just cannot focus or concentrate, the adrenaline has reached the stomach and the “flight or fight” mode starts. The bowels start to get ready to empty and by now you think you may embarrass yourself by having a toilet accident.

NOW, imagine all those feelings but instead of a man with a knife in the picture you are just standing in the queue at a supermarket checkout, there are no dangerous threats and your family are happily chatting by your side. Something inside has triggered the “flight or flight” mode yet there is no immediate danger. Your conscious mind knows that the environment you are in is perfectly safe but something in your brain started the process of “flight or fight”. 

Panic attacks have stopped me doing the following:

*Going on a holiday abroad
*Physically get on a plane
*Go into London shopping on the underground
*Visit family members
*Get on the motorway
*Attend an evening out   
*Attend a city meeting 
*Go to a theme park    
*Go shopping in a mall/centre 
*Go on a coach

Those are just a few of the things I have avoided due to the fear of a panic attack happening.  What is worse is the build-up, as an actual panic attack only generally lasts 20-30 minutes. For example if I knew that in July 2013 all of my family are going on holiday to Sri Lanka I would start the negative thought process now so in total that would be approx 15 months of fearing something that potentially will last 20-30 mins! That’s because like I have said the feelings are so awful that like my example above (man with the knife) you would not want it to happen again! There was a time when I thought I would never be able to get over panic attacks, that I would always live in a controlled life of fear, my panic attacks are always centred around situations where I cannot easily get out of i.e. an aeroplane, I suffer from claustrophobia which as far as I know is not genetic but my dad recently confessed to suffering claustrophobia on a huge scale. Knowing this makes me feel like I need to make sure Josh does not develop these fears, luckily his dad has no fear of anything so I will send him out with daddy so he does not pick up on any of my behaviour!

Whenever I fear a panic attack I usually am armed with my “anti-panic” kit this consists of Propranolol for the adrenaline, Imodium for the bowels, water for the dry mouth and worst case scenario I have some strong calming meds such as Lorazepam (I am not suggesting anyone copies me as these drugs are prescribed to me).

11 years on and I still suffer but since giving birth something changed inside whereby I started to allow the feelings of fear happen rather than fighting them. The second I allow the adrenaline to flow, I say to myself “it’s a normal feeling” the more I do that then the quicker the “it’s ok now” chemical reaches my brain to stop the fight or flight panic! It sounds crazy but it is true! If you allow the feelings to happen then they stop quickly and you are back in control. I am not cured of panic attacks by no means but I am starting to learn a real technique of how to deal with them, a shot of alcohol helps too! I also try not to avoid places now but I go at my own pace – it’s better to get to your destination than not at all. 

Dont Give Up

We all have choices in this life, we can choose to let all of our problems consume us, let them eat away at our core. I could choose to feel miserable on a daily basis and give up smiling but where on earth would that get me? I would lose friends, my partner, my home and simply put I would lose me! I cant afford to let that happen I am responsible for the life of a little boy who could grow up to save the world (dramatic but a possibility) so its my job to make the best of myself so he can have as many opportunities presented to him as possible. Also I don't want to be a miserable cow, I like the feeling of being happy (not every moment though as those sorts of people annoy me!).

No matter how dark the sky looks outside, the sun is always behind it waiting to shine through. I wont give up the fight - will you?

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